Thursday, December 11, 2014

Confirmed Predictions II

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I attempted to increase my epistemic competence. My predictions started out generously at 60% right. Now I can casually assume they're right, so it seems to have worked.



Of course this is privileged information. I could easily have found the data and then pretended to have made the prediction. Indeed the match is uncannily close, given I spent less than a second before coming to a conclusion - and uncanny means literally/prosaically incredible. The idea is to point at what to look for in yourself, rather than for you to believe I did in fact do this. Secondarily, when I say one of my predictions came true, I mean I observe something like this.

It's oft repeated that nicotine has a lethal dose of 50mg. When I first saw this, today, I assumed they had misread the units - surely, that's supposed to be mg/kg? Google gave me the CDC, which I assumed had dropped the /kg, as it uses mg/kg everywhere else, including the immediately following example parenthetical. On being prodded, I looked further down the search results and found this and this, showing the myth is definitely out there in the wild. Because the CDC was inconsistent about units, I predicted that someone had dropped the units, and subsequently been seminal. (And that given that the human dose is rated as exactly the rat dose, it's probably basically a guess, not even informed by clinical case studies.)

Then I followed the link in that latter link.
"Some of these effects resemble typical symptoms of nicotine overdosing, but 1–4 mg of oral nicotine will certainly not evoke the severe adverse effects described, such as clonic seizures and loss of consciousness."
So either the dose was much higher than listed - 3mg/kg, not 3mg - or their chemical supplier screwed up and it wasn't nicotine. (Check date; credit goes to serendipity.) However, Mayer is not saying that those symptoms are unlike nicotine, instead explicitly saying they are like nicotine. (Wikipedia confirms.) It very strongly suggests the dosage unit was typoed.

The person who first dropped the units was Rudolf Kobert, who published in 1906, "in accordance with the severe symptoms evoked in several experimenters by 0.002–0.004 g it is certainly not going to be higher than 0.06 g." Explicitly guesswork.

That said, he was "a renowned pharmacologist" and thus no more likely to make bad guesses in his field than I am. Mayer's cautious lower limit for lethal dose is 1 gram, whereas Kobert said, if we assume the typo theory, that it certainly won't be above 2.5 grams for an average male of 1900. It's all consistent. Getting a mistake consistent doesn't happen by chance.



On the other hand Mayer needs to hang around engineers for a while. Check for small problems before assuming there's a big one. It's cheaper. While he was still helpful, having to steelman everyone gets tiresome after a while. Either learn logic properly or stick to reporting data and leave the interpretation up to an expert. I learned it and there's no reason Mayer couldn't too. In the worst case, the point for Mayer was to shame self-experimentation, not to show anything about nicotine.



Note about unmistakeable evidence - technically we must consider that Kobert didn't in fact observe seizures. All we know is that Kobert reported seizures. Or do we? We must, technically, doubt that we've seen the report. Names get typoed too, etc. Pragmatically, the chance is indistinguishable from zero. Pharmacologists don't think they've seen a seizure when they haven't, and if he'd tried to lie he would have been caught. Finally, that we know we think we've seen the report is not pragmatically like 100%, not even lim approaches 100%, it's plain 100% likely to be true.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tet Offensive and Fourth Generation Warfare

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Even though the Vietcong were materially defeated in detail, they won the moral victory, says Robert Greene:

Within a few weeks, in all parts of South Vietnam, the Americans regained the upper hand, retaking control of Saigon and securing their air bases. The sieges at Hue and Khe Sanh took longer, but massive artillery and air bombardments eventually doomed the insurgents, as well as leveling entire sections of Hue.
After what later became know as the Tet Offensive was over, Westmoreland likened it to the Battle of the Bulge, near the end of World war II.  There the Germans had managed to surprise the Allies by staging a bold incursion into eastern France. In the first few days, they had advanced rapidly, creating panic, but once the Allies recovered, they had managed to push the Germans back -- and eventually it became apparent that the battle was the German military's death knell, their last shot. [...] The entire Vietcong infrastructure had been wiped out.
[...]
But another viewpoint began to trickle in from home: the drama at the U.S. embassy, the siege of Hue, and the attacks on air bases had kept millions of Americans glued to their television sets. Until then the Vietcong had operated mostly in the countryside, barely visible to the American public. Now, for the first time, they were apparent in major cities, wreaking havoc and destruction. Americans had been told the war was winding down and winnable; these images said otherwise. Suddenly the war's purpose seemed less clear. How could South Vietnam remain stable in the face of this ubiquitous enemy? How could the Americans ever claim a clear victory? There was really no end in sight. 
American opinions polls tracked a sharp turn against the war. Anti-war demonstrations broke out all over the country. President Lyndon Johnson's military advisers, who had been telling him that South Vietnam was coming under control, now confessed that they were no longer so optimistic. In the New Hampshire Democratic primary that March, Johnson was stunned by his defeated by Senator Eugene McCarthy, who had galvanized the growing antiwar sentiment. Shortly thereafter Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection in the upcoming presidential race and that he would slowly disengaged American forces from Vietnam
The Tet Offensive was indeed the turning point in the Vietnam War, but not in the direction that Westmoreland and his staff had foreseen. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Steel Anarchism

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The first thing to understand that the only true anarchism is a flavour of anarcho-capitalism. This is anarchy fully steelmanned, logicked forward until it could be logicked no more. (This is philosophical anarchism, not bomb-things anarchism. Philosophical anarchism is recognizing each dire ape as responsible to themselves and only themselves, and that each should be held responsible for their actions and only their actions.)  I'm going simply call it steel anarchy. (You're supposed to make fun of it. Any other name would be just as ridiculous but trying to hide it.)

The key feature of anarchism is Exit. Because it is illegitimate to actively do anything to someone else without their consent, all anarchic institutions must either be opt-in or opt-out. As a result, if you don't like the rules of any particular anarchy (syndicalism, communism, whatever) you can opt out and they're not allowed to force you back in. Empirically speaking most will opt for private property, because they want their stuff to stay their stuff. Or: markets are what you get when you leave humans alone. See the bazaar. In any case, an anarcho-capitalism has no problem with subsidiary communes or whatever. If they can survive, good on them.
There is only one kind of real anarchy: steel anarchy.

Given these few premises, most of the modern world (eventually) falls out of the logic. Fact is, mayors and police and courts and municipal utilities serve needs that citizens have, and an anarchy is going to have to serve the same needs. Given the IQ of the population isn't going to markedly increase upon switching to anarchy, the solutions are going to look much the same and employ much the same kind of people.

Everything will be the same. Except radically different. More on this in a bit. First, how does anarchy maintain itself?

Anarchy is obviously not particularly natural. While it has arisen in limited historical contexts, it usually doesn't.

Every regime has required a political formula. For kings it was divine right. For democracies it is mob right. However, in all cases these formulae have been lies. Obviously the king wasn't voted in by God. Democracies don't have the consent of the people; if they did they wouldn't have to harp on having the consent, they would just ask citizens to sign normal contracts, and they would willingly do so. When these lies are exposed, the regime collapses; moral legitimacy is critical to regime survival. However, all coercive regimes are inherently illegitimate, (proof in draft stage) so their formulae must be lies.
The true formula is consent, and thus Exit. Once a critical mass of humanity understands this truth, their nation will convert to an anarchy. Any attempted conquerors will have an uphill fight, lies against truth, to convince the people of their right to rule. It will almost certainly be too expensive, and they will fail. It is similarly difficult to dislodge mob right as a political formula. Even North Korea holds elections. Difficult, that is, until it fails naturally due to being a lie.

But what was that about everything being radically different, yet the same?
The point of Exit is to invite Gnon to punish you more swiftly and harshly. The longer Gnon's wrath abides, the more terrible it is.
What terrifies me is that not only do I not think America deserves Mitt Romney, I don't even think America deserves Barack Obama.  After all, a couple of centuries of diligent looking-after has run us up quite a tab with God.  A tab that will be paid or punished.  What terrifies me is that while I see no collective interest in paying the tab, it doesn't seem to me that the punishment has even begun to begin.

Because their customers can Exit at will (more or less) institutions will be directly funded by their beneficiaries. Anyone they might parasitize will immediately Exit. For the same Exit reason, they will have discipline imposed on them; if they do not serve, they will starve. As a result, while (for example) courts will still exist and deal with much the same problems as now, how they deal with them can be radically different.

Let's examine courts in a little detail. Even such bright lights as Nick Szabo don't fully understand the anarchist version of them, so one should not be surprised to to find them difficult to grasp.

Szabo rightly brings up the topic of judicial arbitrage. When I commit a crime, I pick a court likely to find me innocent. My victim, naturally, picks a court likely to find me guilty. Seems worse than having no court. How does anarchy solve this?
By not attempting this system at all. A court will no more accept a case post-facto than a life insurance company will accept an application post-mortem.
In the modern world, your local democracy promises (vaguely) to uphold rule of law, and lets you accuse people and haul them into court. It then does whatever it sees fit and you just have to suck it up. If it doesn't feel like letting you haul someone off for whatever reason, you just have to suck it up.

In an anarchy, you sign up with a security insurance provider. In this agreement, you will have certain obligations, such as turning over evidence, appearing in court, and most importantly, abiding by the court's rulings. In return, it promises to protect your property, indemnify you against loss, and persecute anyone who perpetrates against you. In general, the court under which a perp is tried is determined by who the victim pays to provide court service. If you don't like their laws, don't victimize their patrons.
(You can, if you want, try to see to your own security. Good luck with that. More on this in a bit.)
In other words pretty much what it's supposed to do now, except you sign a contract agreeing to let them do it.
However, that signing step is what creates a radical difference. If you feel the court is not successfully protecting your property or is burdening you beyond what it is benefiting you, you can simply sign on with a different one. As a result, courts will only have effective and efficient laws. (Not 40,000 and growing.) Most likely it will have about three laws: battery, vandalism, and fraud. That is, protecting person, property, and integrity. However, it can be tricky to decide who is in fact aggressing on whom. Punishment and discrimination between small differences will generally follow the English Common Law precedent, being the most advanced body of judgement in the world, though Xeer will eventually catch up.

(Objection for competing courts: courts will want to cooperate, mostly. While they'll have somewhat varying procedures, thus creating desire for regulatory arbitrage, if OneCourt refuses to deal with AlphaCourt, effectively patrons of One can't trade with patrons of Alpha, because AlphaCourt patrons know they can't enforce contracts with them. There would be a lot of shooting instead, as per below. Similarly, rather than calling the cops on a OneCourt thief, they will just shoot, since the cops can't do anything special. That's not a win for OneCourt patrons.)

Finally, if there really is a better solution than courts, it will be impossible to stop it from being used. Groping toward the edge of the box for an example, what if courts guaranteed contracts instead of people? Law a la carte?

It is also possible to provide your own security, much as you can grow your own food. However, it's a tricky proposition. The main function of the court is to hold a set of rules about who the aggressor is. By signing the contract with the security firm, I agree to abide by their judgement of such. I do this because even honest men disagree...and most aren't even honest.

If someone slurs my good name and I shoot them, am I defending my good name or unconscionably escalating a petty conflict? If someone trespasses beyond my fence and I can't shoot them before they get off again, is chasing them necessary to keep the boundary's integrity, or simply another trespass? If someone flagrantly trespasses and I shoot them, did I shoot them for trespassing or did I invite them onto my land, then shoot them in the back? That is, do I owe danegeld?

For personal security, I have to do a lot of shooting. I'll meet two kinds of people; those that will honour their agreements, and those that won't sit still for me to apply sanctions. The first I never need to shoot, the latter I might as well shoot now. Knowing this, they might well try to shoot me first...
By contrast, using a guarantor, more agreements become possible. Anyone breaking their sworn word has to evade two vengeful parties instead of just one; this allows contracts that can't be personally overseen. Delivery is a simple example; if I have to personally oversee a delivery, I might as well make the delivery myself. Reputation can help, but why trust only reputation when I can trust the combination of reputation and technology?

However, there are certain bits of personal security the firms will likely endorse. If a probable Ebola patient approaches me, they will likely be fine with me shooting them, as it constitutes a threat to my life, and they have to pay danegeld to my dependents if I die. If my neighbour brings home a lion, they probably want to go check it out themselves - it is possible to secure it properly after all - but they're not going to mind if I shoot a loose lion. Similarly they're going to raise premiums on my neighbour if they don't flatly refuse to insure him as long as they have a lion. Consider what happens if they lose their insurance; I shoot my neighbour, I shoot their lion...and nobody is left to object to what happened. It may be moral. Or not. However, anyone seeking vengeance is going up alone against me and my insurer. (For this reason I think it should be considered attempted murder to publish lists of uninsured.) We hire the insurer precisely because without one, morality is not upheld, as it isn't in the modern world.

Second example: mayors-cum-barons.
Since cities will no longer be some special kind of property, supposedly owned by everyone, they will likely be consolidated under one individual who buys out everyone else. Cities will have CEOs, that is, still have mayors, though calling things by their right names they're barons. They don't merely administer the city; they have property right (not only moral, but secured by some insurance firm) in the land and buildings of the city.
Mayors will more or less make the same kinds of decisions they do now. They will make bylaws about parking spaces and decided who to contract out municipal water supplies to.
The difference is the citizens will have to actively agree to let them make these decisions. I'm not sure exactly how this will shake out; social engineering is easy, but not that easy. Perhaps barons will require visitors to agree to local by-laws before they enter the city. Perhaps they'll be tolerant, allow metics, but not give them full citizenship unless they agree to the baron's rule.

(As always, you can form the contract to almost exactly simulate modern 'democratic' cities if you want. We'll just see what Gnon thinks about that...)

Since they're selected for economic competence, frugality, providence, et cetera, anarchic barons will generally be competent rulers, or at least know enough to hire a competent steward. (As in, basically the opposite of being elected for being the best liar.)

However, some barons will make mistakes. In these cases they will lose citizens. (I'm assuming nobody will be dumb enough to opt into a contract that forbids them from emigrating the city.) As a result, the less-mistaken barons will gain citizens. Bad cities will either reform or be gradually, peacefully leached of power. This is one of the non-perfect aspects of anarchism, however, as leaving a city is not cheap, and cannot be made cheap without subsidy. It is difficult to take your friends and family with you. It is impossible to take your geographical familiarity and history with you. Barons will be able to charge rent (neo property taxes) in proportion to how culturally invested their citizens are. However, this gives the baron an incentive to (unironically) culturally enrich their city, so it's not all bad.

Finally, ancap is neocameralist patchwork. Given free Exit, cities will balkanize. You get patchwork for free. As for the neocameralism...
It doesn’t care about competency and order and peace and stability as such.
Anarchy frees humans to pursue whatever they want. Humans care about competency and order and peace and stability. Ancap, unlike Hadley Bennett, does not presume to tell humans they care about these things more than any particular thing else. If they do so care, they will patronize cities and barons that provide those things at the expense of other things. However, Gnon has an opinion on such barons. I don't know what it is, and neither does Bennett. Other barons may have value hierarchies that Gnon likes better. Humans may prefer cities that sacrifice order and stability for those things. Anarchy proposes to let Gnon tell us which is which.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Princeton vs. Consciousness

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Are We Really Conscious? - NYTimes.com

Yes, though it's entirely predictable that the Cathedral would prefer you to doubt it.

(Via, via.)

Graziano asserts that since consciousness is inaccurately modelling something else which isn't conscious, consciousness doesn't exist.
Graziano takes forever to get to the point, luckily I could guess or I would never have bothered reading the whole thing. I will instead use inverted pyramid structure.

This is where my own work comes in. In my lab at Princeton, my colleagues and I have been developing the “attention schema” theory of consciousness, which may explain why that computation is useful and would evolve in any complex brain.
It's remarkable that Graziano thinks this is even remotely fitting as an explanation. I think the fact that he recognizes the flaws makes it worse. He's noticed the problems but is hoping to sweep them under your rug.

Awareness: a cartoonish reconstruction of attention that is as physically inaccurate as the brain’s internal model of color.
At least it misses the point in a complex way. Unfortunately that makes it sophisticated sophistry.

Wavelength is a real, physical phenomenon; color is the brain’s approximate, slightly incorrect model of it.
Colour is also its own thing, which it is a perfect model of.

Awareness: a cartoonish reconstruction of attention that is as physically inaccurate as the brain’s internal model of color.
Awareness is also its own thing.
Presumably Graziano believes attention does not have awareness. He therefore concludes that awareness, by having awareness, is an inaccurate model of attention.

The word 'cat' is not a furry carnivore. It is, however, a curve, a loop with a tail, and a cross, indeed it is exactly identical to those things. You cannot explain that the word 'cat' doesn't exist by asserting that curves, loops, and crosses are not furry carnivores.

This is exactly analogous to Graziano's 'refutation.' The word 'cat' is not an illusion. Instead, it merely betrays his extreme naivete and disinterest in the facts about consciousness. Or sophistry.

I believe a major change in our perspective on consciousness may be necessary, a shift from a credulous and egocentric viewpoint to a skeptical and slightly disconcerting one: namely, that we don’t actually have inner feelings in the way most of us think we do.
Emphasis added. Yeah, major, I've never heard that one. This year.


The scientific truth about white (i.e., that it is not pure) differs from how the brain reconstructs it.
Misrepresenting or misunderstanding consciousness. We're supposed to not take consciousness for granted but we are supposed to take Graziano's interpretation of consciousness for granted.

White, in the mind, is neither pure nor impure. It's a colour, just like every other colour. The brain doesn't 'reconstruct' colour. The mind constructs an entirely new thing, colour, which does not exist in a photon-camera system. The photonic mixture 'white' is completely separate form the qualia 'white.' Check; they can exist independently. Mixture without brain, and dreams, respectively.

Not to mention equivocation; trying to purify the photonic mixture should not be confused with trying to purify the quale.

How does the brain go beyond processing information to become subjectively aware of information? The answer is: It doesn’t.
"I observe a thing. What is it?" "Oh, you're not observing it." You cannot get more anti-scientific.

But the argument here is that there is no subjective impression; there is only information in a data-processing device.
"I observed a thing." "No you didn't." Plebs aren't allowed consciousness. You have to go to Princeton if you want to deserve consciousness.

The machinery is computing an elaborate story about a magical-seeming property.
Deliberate or taught confusion of objective and subjective. Yes, if you assume subjective properties are objective, it will be difficult to show the objective truth of the subjective properties. For some reason.

It also computes information about the self and about a (physically incoherent) property of subjective experience.
Graziano has discovered that nonphysical properties are physically incoherent. I am amazeballs.

And there is no way for the brain to determine through introspection that the story is wrong, because introspection always accesses the same incorrect information.
Rank newbie mistake. Introspection is not unitary.

First, what is our relationship to the rest of the universe? Copernicus answered that one. We’re not at the center. We’re a speck in a large place.
Much like a sapphire is just a speck in some large rock, and uranium makes up only 2.7% of the crust.

Second, what is our relationship to the diversity of life? Darwin answered that one. Biologically speaking, we’re not a special act of creation. We’re a twig on the tree of evolution.
We build skyscrapers and nothing else on the entire tree does. Luckily skyscrapers are just a social construct, so none of our precious beliefs are challenged.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Theological Epistemology

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So you think stable society requires a religion.

Given that a flavour of nihilism might be the true religion, there must be a true religion.

Existence is defined by interactions, which means it must be possible to learn the true religion. Theological epistemology must require a different attitude than our well-studied epistemologies, or we would have already learned it. I find it absurd to presume we've already done so: all other fields of knowledge develop step by step from imperfection to wisdom. Religion is at best stuck at imperfection, if not outright random guesses.

If ~nihilism is the true religion, your ambitions are done. Society will never be stable. Thus if you want to stabilize civilization and think you need a religion, you must assume there is a true religion.

Therefore the first thing to do is develop theological epistemology. (It is similarly necessary to assume it is possible to develop this epistemology.) It is not going to develop by accident, or it would have done so already. It must be developed intentionally and consciously.

I could presume to write that I've made a start on it, but you shouldn't believe me, so I won't. You must develop theological epistemology yourself, because nobody else who can do it is going to do it. That, or give up your ambitions. However necessary it is for civilization, nobody cares enough about civilization to provide it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cost-Benefit Analysis: A Case Study of Cultural Economic Incompetence

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When for example an Anglo-Saxon hobbit is taught about cost-benefit analysis, they subconsciously think it shows they should do something that would alienate their friends, and blame the analysis rather than their shallow understanding of it.

Their brain instantly throws ups some stupid ritual they're ambivalent about, and they'll realize the cost-benefit is cost-heavy. Another, different part of their brain will then instantly throw up flashing red flags, because the ritual is a signalling surface antigen. They make no effort to reconcile these parts, but rationally think their relationships are more important than understanding econ, and therefore reject economics.

I use the hobbit as an example, underclass such as chavs and helots make similar errors, and bourgeoisie usually have to aggressively compartmentalize the knowledge.

Two issues in particular here.
Hobbits do not naturally think recursively.
The ritual is pointlessly inefficient. Whatever is being signalled can probably be signalled by something a fifth of the cost, if only other hobbits were rational enough to notice and agree, or lucky enough to have picked it in the first place.
The latter means the asocial econ part of the hobbit's brain has successfully understood. However, the former prevents them from adding the cost of losing friends to the overall cost of changing, and it never occurs to them to tot up the social phase-transition cost from expensive rituals to efficient ones.

The failure to grok the principle usually prevents hobbits from using it at all, as their only choices are repelling their friends or rejecting the principle. Bourgeoisie have more sophistication, but usually have to put it behind overbuild walls.

The 'libertarianism can't work' crowd seems averse to explaining exactly why not. I hypothesize the above conflict, generalized, is the reason. The problem would seem to be failure to teach logic, rather than a failure of the philosophy. Econ can even be taught praxeologically; children will do the asocial thing, by accident, if nothing else. The teacher doesn't need to explain the principle clearly and the children don't need logic; simply saying, "That's not what I mean," at the right times will do. Bourgeoisie learn it praxeologically as Conquest's first law kicks in. Prussian schools obviously and deliberately teach the opposite and actively antagonize efficient signalling.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Leadership Engineering vs. Umlaut Comments

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Doing it wrong.

Comments here, via, spurred by this.

"If you're going to advocate/borrow elements from some version/mix of an ideology/ideologies that led to the death of lots of people in the past"
There were some sincere, well-intentioned communists. They formed actual communes with a hundred or so of their buddies. Communism failed on this scale, so they abandoned the communes. Usually before anyone died.

Then there were some insincere, power-lustful communists. They imposed these known failure modes on countries of millions of people. When people started dying, they did not change their minds about what should be done.

The disputants in the Umlaut comment section seem to be arguing about who gets to legitimately seize the coercive apparatus. They have concluded it's the group with the most rhetorically-effective arguments, and are now all attempting to seize that power proxy.

If you actually want to create good government, then it's time to apply engineering discipline. Preliminary studies. Prototype. Scale - slowly. One tribe. Then one town. Then one city. Then two cities. Solve problems as they arise, before scaling further. Not revolution. Not entire countries at once.

The only reason I'm not already out there recruiting for an experiment in alternative government structures is because my proposed alternatives are illegal. There is also the Rhodesia problem, should my designs happen to work.